The Japanese system for numbers up to thousand uses similar system with that of the western system of numbering. For numbers up to thousand, in India also we use a similar system. Similar system means, we have different names to denote 100 and 1000. Generally we do not use any separate name for 10,000. It is just ‘das hazar’ in Hindi as ten thousand in English.
Before we start comparing the differences in dealing with higher numbers, it will be worth to recall the smaller count numbers in Japanese, English and Hindi.
In Japanese numbering system, ‘man 万’ is used to denote ten thousand. From ten thousand onwards Japanese people use ‘man’. Then Ichi man is 10,000, ni man is 20,000, san man is 30,000 and so on. The western system use ten thousand for 10,000, twenty thousand for 20,000 while the Indian (Hindi) system use a system similar to English like Bees hazar for 20,000 and Tees hazar for 30,000 etc. Up to one hundred thousand Indian and English systems are different. In India we use One lakh for one hundred thousand, which is ju man in Japanese.
Lakh and Crore are commonly used in India for business, while in Japan man and Oku 億 are used, in English Million and Billion are used. For me, the translation of figures from Indian to English and then to Japanese system of numbering takes much time to get an image when we discuss Ni hyaku man yen or Oku yen. Schools in India also teache Indian way of counting and denoting the numbers and the brain is forged to imagine the figures in terms of Lakhs and Crores.
With the globalization of the businesses in India, use of million and billion are quite common and it takes less time to translate the figures in mind to our lakhs and crores. It takes time to accommodate with new system used to deal with numbers. Years of building up of images and mental calculation based on one system can not be replaced totally with another system. Computer will make the things easy to convert the It is easy now to remember das lakh is one million and sau crore is one billion. The two process conversion of numbers from Indian to English and then to Japanese is many times a test for brain.
The other side of the story is the complaint from Japanese colleagues that the million and billions are too difficult for them!